Come Young, Come All: Kauffman Center Connects Youth to the Arts

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts works year-round to bring together Kansas City youth and the arts through a variety of immersive opportunities. The Open Doors Spotlight on Youth initiative offers a diverse set of activities that connect tomorrow’s artists, art patrons and arts administrators with the Kauffman Center’s staff and stages. Noteworthy Spotlight on Youth programs include Career Center Stage, the Center’s internship program and Live in the Lobby.

Career Center Stage

Through Career Center Stage, staff and volunteers who usually take a backseat to the performers on stage become the stars of the show. Visiting students have the chance to participate in discussions with Kauffman Center staff from a wide range of departments to learn more about the different roles that contribute to the Kauffman Center’s overall success. Students can explore career options beyond the stage, like marketing, development, facilities management and more.

The Q&A sessions are often coupled with a volunteer- or staff-led tour of the facility. These tours last around 45 minutes and are filled with fun and little-known facts about the Kauffman Center. Students get the unique opportunity to explore and learn how one of the country’s premier performing arts centers operates on a daily basis.

The complete Career Center Stage experience, which includes a Q&A session and tour, allows students to learn about different career opportunities and see those professions in action. This experience lasts an hour and a half to two hours and costs $150. If your group is on a time-sensitive schedule, an hour-long tour is available for $100. Career Center Stage caters to high school and college-aged students, and the experience is typically only offered once a month. Interested groups should contact the Kauffman Center directly to inquire about Career Center Stage availability.

Internship Program

The Kauffman Center is dedicated to developing not only future patrons of the arts, but also future arts and non-profit professionals. Through the Center’s internship program, students work directly with Kauffman Center staff on projects and tasks related to their field of study, gaining real-world experience and strengthening their professional portfolios. Corey Goodburn, the Center’s spring 2020 Marketing and Community Outreach intern, said working with top industry professionals in a hands-on environment has helped him grow immensely, both professionally and personally.

“Interning at the Kauffman Center in the marketing department allowed me to discover my passion for digital marketing and propelled me toward my future career,” Goodburn said. “I feel incredibly thankful for my team, who was always willing to work with me and nurture my creativity by creating assignments that allowed me to explore new ideas, platforms and trends while still being a productive and valuable member of the team.”

The Center’s staff is dedicated to giving interns a well-rounded experience, which might also include the chance to taste the manager of corporate giving’s family recipe of red rice and beans or debate KU vs. MU with the director of finance and administration. There will always be interesting takeaways, professional and personal, and countless opportunities to network and build relationships with Kauffman Center staff in various departments.

These well-rounded internships are offered in the spring, summer and fall and are available in the following areas: Marketing/PR, Marketing/Community Outreach, Patron Services/Volunteer Management, Facilities Management and Theater Production. Students can find available internships posted on the Kauffman Center’s website throughout the year. Internship opportunities are open to college sophomores, juniors, seniors or recent college graduates, and they typically last three to four months. Although these internships are unpaid, Kauffman Center staff are more than happy to help arrange college credit. The knowledge and hands-on experience interns receive through a Kauffman Center internship are invaluable assets that propel them into future careers.

Live in the Lobby

Local community groups and individual artists can showcase their talents prior to select Kauffman Center Presents performances through the year as part of the Live in the Lobby program. This program acts as an introduction for young and emerging artists to the Kansas City community and offers artists a platform to gain performance experience in a world-class setting. Brandmeyer Great Hall, with its sweeping Kansas City skyline views, acts as the perfect backdrop for Live in the Lobby artists to entertain and inspire patrons before headlining events. In addition to enjoying the beautiful performance space, Live in the Lobby artists receive an artist stipend and tickets to see the headlining performances.

Past Live in the Lobby performances have included the Kansas City Boys Choir and Kansas City Girls Choir, which filled Brandmeyer Great Hall with a symphony of intertwining voices twice since 2017. The Beautiful Minds Youth Poetry group from Lincoln College Prep Academy commanded attention with its compelling 2017 Live in the Lobby performance. The 5 Star Jazz Band brought an entirely different mood to the lobby when it provided an alluring and smooth soundtrack for a cocktail hour before the headlining show.

The Kauffman Center invites anyone, from kindergarteners to college students and beyond, to take advantage of the many programs offered through Spotlight on Youth. A tour of the venue and Q&A session may lead a student to realize the career of their dreams. This dream can be furthered by an internship at the Kauffman Center, where professionals guide interns through a smooth transition from an academic to a professional environment. Or maybe a young artist is a future headlining performer, but they need a chance to showcase their talents. The Kauffman Center can help make that dream come true, too. So, please join us at the Kauffman Center, where arts and culture and youth in the Kansas City community collide and thrive.

To find out more information on these and other Spotlight on Youth initiatives, please visit kauffmancenter.org/open-doors.

–Sydney Halas

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